Today, Wednesday the 17th of Adar, in honor of the yahrzeits of Reizel, the mother of the Chasam Sofer, and Rav Shimon, the Michtav Sofer, the son of the Chasam Sofer, I have posted two stories regarding the two great individuals.
The first deals with the circumstances of the Chasam Sofer's birth and the second relates to the Michtav Sofer's acceptance as Rov of Krakow.
Rabbi Moshe Sofer was born on Tishri 7, 5524 (September 14, 1763) in Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany. His father, Rabbi Shemuel, was a man filled of wisdom and the fear of G-d, and he became known for his work as a scribe. This was a family profession, hence the name Sofer (“scribe” in Hebrew). Rabbi Moshe’s mother was known in town as Reisel the Tzaddiket because of her many acts of charity.
What follows is the story of Rabbi Moshe Sofer’s birth: For twenty years, Rabbi Shemuel and his wife Reisel were unable to have children, and they both multiplied their prayers, fasts, and gifts to Tzeddakah. At the end of these twenty years, Reisel conceived and gave birth to a boy. She felt the birth approaching on the day before Shabbat Teshuvah, around nighttime, and she was very much afraid of profaning Shabbat because of it. She sent for the Rav of the town, Rabbi Avraham Abush, and asked him to help her by ordering that they wait until she give birth before welcoming Shabbat in Synagogue, for normally Shabbat was received very early. Accepting her request, the Rav said, “It is certain that the child who will emerge from this Tzaddiket will be among the great men of Israel.” That child, of course, was Rabbi Moshe Sofer.
The townspeople of Cracow waited in anticipation of the arrival of their new rov. A small minority had preferred a different rov and they were not too happy with the majority vote.
They decided that during the new rov's first drosho they would ask him some difficult questions and thus lower his dignity in the eyes of those present.
They did not reckon however with Rabbi Shimon Sofer's keen perception. As he walked up to the bimah on that first day, he had a feeling that some of the crowd were planning trouble. As a result, he began his drosho somewhat differently than he had planned.
"When I was a child living in Pressburg, there was a Jew who opened his shop on Shabbos. My father, the holy Chasam Sofer zt"l, instructed me to go to the Jew and inform him in the name of the rov that he was to close his shop. I did as I was told, but the brazen Yid laughed in my face, telling me not to bother him with such unimportant matters.
"I repeated his reply to my father, who told me to go to him again and say that if he doesn't close his shop he will be punished from Above. This time the shopkeeper became annoyed and warned me that if I dare to come again he'll thrash me thoroughly. I expressed my fear to my father that he would carry out his threat, but the Chasam Sofer commanded me, `Go to warn him a third time, and if he tries to hit you I'll teach you now one of the Holy Names of Hashem and that will protect you.'
"When the shopkeeper saw me approaching for the third time, he raised his fist in anger and strode towards me. I concentrated on the Name my father had taught me, and when the fellow reached my side he fell to the ground in a dead faint.
"Morai verabosai," announced Rabbi Shimon. "If you have come to argue in Torah with me lesheim Shomayim, so that the light of truth should shine forth, you are welcome to do so and the Torah will be glorified and strengthened. However, if your intentions are lo lishmoh and you have come to harm me, I will have you know that I still remember the Sheim that my father taught me."
Immediately the troublemakers were gripped by fear and they never dared to trouble the rov.